Thursday, December 08, 2011

My Week of Movie Watching

Night Moves – This was my second time watching this well-regarded but underrated modern Noir. Gene Hackman plays an ex-football star turned private dick. An assignment to find a missing girl threads him through Hollywood stunt men, a nympho teenager, and a sunken treasure. I found the plot to be a bit erratic this time around. It’s hard to pin down how the various characters are supposed to be linked to each other. On the other hand, there are some good supporting performances (including a very young Melanie Griffith and James Woods). The sequence that ends the film is simply stunning, and pushes it over the hump for me. Recommended.

Bridesmaids – A raunchy comedy in the tradition of The Hangover. I liked Hangover, and I like this one a lot, too. The real discovery here is Kristen Wiig as Annie. She’s so sweet and vulnerable here, and yet so gut-busting funny, that I just fell in love with her. The scene where the girls try on wedding dresses just as they are overcome by a case of food poisoning is comedy gold. Recommended.

The Knack…and how it get it – I waited a long time to finally view Richard Lesters follow-up to A Hard Day’s Night, and I gotta admit that I was a bit disappointed. Nerdy teacher Colin (Michael Crawford) is driven crazy by the success his super-cool flatmate Tolen (Ray Brooks)has with the ladies. When sweet country girl Nancy (Rita Tushingham) arrives on the scene, it’s a free-for-all as to who will win her over. The film takes a lot of the frenetic style of HDN and gooses it even more. I liked the sharp cutting style, and the zany camera work, but I was a bit distracted by the way Lester used commentary by passers-by as a narration. Plus, it was hard to understand what the hell people were talking about. Sometimes, I felt like the film was trying too hard, in a “look at how cute I am” sort of way. There’s also a little jivey bit at the end about Nancy’s being “raped”, which is cringe-worthy to a modern viewer. Some fun things, but overall not recommended.


Drew McIntosh said...

Jeff, I'm preparing a list for the end of the month on the best films I watched this year for the first time, and Night Moves is going to be awfully high, I was blown away by it. I think the open quality of the plot and the vagueness of the character connections are what make it so great; it's a movie that's firmly committed not to untangling this convoluted mystery, but rather to aligning itself with the man stuck in the middle of it all. Hackman is in every single scene and everything occurs completely through his viewpoint, and because he's all but incompetent (clues and opportunities for him to put the pieces together constantly fly over his head), we are stuck in the same clueless position he is by the end. The key scene seems to be the one with Hackman telling the story of the chessplayer who loses the championship - it completely foreshadows his own situation after climax. He wasn't quite smart enough to see one move ahead, and so he never saw it coming, and it's going to haunt him for the rest of his life.

I need to catch up with the Lester at some point, even his more minor work is never uninteresting. He's a great director.

Jeff Duncanson said...

Drew - These are the kind of comments that I love getting - Someone who causes me to rethink what I first thought about a movie.
You're right about Mosely's general ineptitude. in thinking back, that's why the relationship with his wife is given the time it is. This guys is really adrift in his life.
You also make a good point about his point-of-view and the convoluted plot. I think we are programmed to expect clean resolutions, and plots that are y constructed and laid out for us. This one definately isn't that way - It reminded me a bit of Out of the Past in that regard.
Anyways, thanks very much for the comments. (I have to watch it again now, y'know) :)